Sunday, September 2, 2012

Steel Connecting in China Part 2

At the Green Resort Restaurant, Ningbo, China

Aug. 08, 2012
The day before, we flew to Ningbo City but our flight returned to Xiamen due to typhoon Haiku ( I think this was typhoon Gener coming from the Philippines). While Manila and northern Luzon was battered by continuous rains and flooding, China's central eastern parts were likewise smarting from floods and strong winds.

We spent the morning waiting for confirmation of the flight and later decided to go to downtown Xiamen. We took lunch at Robinson’s Mall, Xiamen. Together with SM, I felt some measure of pride that such purely Philippine mall brands are conquering China. We know of course that they are owned by the family of Henry Sy and John Gokongwei who, like most Chinese Filipino taipans, they originally came from this place, Fujian or Amoy as we used to know. It was hot outside but my hosts told me we have to cool down over a bottle of beer. Shortly after we returned to the hotel, the airline bus picked us up. Our flight was confirmed to leave and we are finally flying out.

At Ningbo Sino Coalition Industrial Company Ltd

It was still wet and windy when we landed at Ningbo international Airport. It seemed like we were the only passengers at the airport. It was early evening, 6pm. but the place was already dark. There were still some flood waters at both sides of the streets. The expressway was lonely and dark. Save for one or two trucks and a couple of cars, the highway was all ours.

The airport to the hotel took us 45 minutes. Downtown Ningbo, I was told, was still 30 min. away. Some streets were still flooded and cars have to find shallow areas to pass through. The hotel was a star hotel, rated a "Green Hotel" but there were no other guests in the lobby and some services were not available because of the typhoon. We took dinner outside and later ventured to the streets. We still felt the strong winds battering the tress, the place looked desolate. Few cars were out on the streets, establishments were closed, buildings were dark, and there were no people roaming around. I didn't mind the "cold reception". I looked forward to the next day. I learned that the typhoon had already passed earlier in the morning .

At Zhejiang Southeast Metal Sheet Co. Ltd., Hangzhou, China

Aug. 09, 2012
We woke up to a sunny morning. Now the people were out on the streets. We learned some employees of te plant we visited were starnded in tier houses the day before due to floods.

After the meeting and tour, we were treated to lunch at a “Green Resort Restaurant”. It seems China is serious with their green campaign. Our hotel was rated as “Green Hotel”. It was indeed a hearty lunch of vegetable, fish, and meat and the typical "kampai" of beer.

After lunch, we drove to our final itinerary, Hangzhou. Running mostly at 140 kph. in a busy expressway of cars and trucks), it took us only 2 hours to reach our destination. Ningbo and Hangzhou are two major cities, and as expected, trade and business is flourishing.

Hangzhou is a tourist city. Their top tourist attraction, Western Lake, is considered as one of Chinese jewels. Hangzhou is bigger than Xiamen and just around 2 hours. car ride to Shanghai. I learned it is the favorite city of many Chinese  “rich and famous”. I was told that here, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and other top luxurious cars are a common sight.

Many construction and expansion activities were visibly going on. In the areas in the vicinity of the plant, new communities are being built, new industrial zones are underway. The developments are fast that every quarter, when my host from Taiwan comes and visits the place every quarter, new structures come into place.

From the plant, our hotel, the luxurious 5 star Jinma Hotel, was 40 min. away. Downtown Hangzhou was  another 30 min. away. We just didn't have the time to explore and experience the beauty of the city. 

Aug. 10, 2012
We took the 7:40 a.m. one hour return flight back to Xiamen. Domestic terminal was fully packed with people. There were just so many Chinese locals travelling to and fro. Airport security was, or had been,  strict but firm and consistent. Everyone goes on a personal body search, front and back. Baggages are opened for unknown objects. They simply don't take chances as far as security is concerned. But I must say that they are efficient.

My flight to Manila was in the late afternoon so I still had enough time to go back to Robinson's mall to buy some pasalubong. After a lunch of noodles, David, my Xiamen host took me back to the airport. I spent the whole afternoon waiting for my afternoon flight.

We finally took off past 6, almost an hour delayed. This PAL flight was full; 90% were Chinese visitors. Upon landing at NAIA Terminal 3, we again spent 40 min. inside the plane. When we disembarked, we were surprised to learn we were not going through the tube, but had to take the stairway and the bus. At the customs area, there was another long wait we had to endure as all baggages of Xiamen Chinese passengers were opened. Finally, after going out, the last long wait was for the taxi. It was already past 10 pm. There was a long line of passengers but there were no taxis. This is already the 2nd time  that has happened to me. The first was in May with my family coming in from Cebu. The airport authorities just don't care whether there are transport available for late evening arrivals at Terminal 3. If you are the passenger, tired and weary or if you are the tourist, excited to visit Manila, that would not be fun at all.

After a long day, I arrived home past 11 p.m. It was however, still a fruitful, educational and productive trip.